The Screen: Very Good

Many netbooks and notebooks have shipped with 11.6 inch screens. They deliver a good balance between screen size and portability. But the 11.6-inch displays we’ve encountered in the past have been crap. It’s not rocket science, but rather a matter of cost. The majority of users will pick a cheap, bright, glossy display over something with better viewing angles, higher resolution or more accurate colors. And when you’re competing mostly based on price, it’s tough to make a decision that won’t increase sales (I’d argue that it makes the most important part of your customers happier but then again, I don’t run Acer/ASUS/Dell/Gateway).

Apple opts out of low margin competition. The cheapest MacBook Air starts at $999. You pay a premium, and part of that premium goes towards the best 11.6-inch display we’ve ever tested.

Notebook LCD Quality - Contrast

Notebook LCD Quality - White

Most 11-inch screens don’t get very bright and have sub-par contrast ratios. The 11-inch MacBook Air has neither of these characteristics. It’s 127% brighter than the Alienware M11x R2 and has twice the contrast ratio of anything in its class. It’s not the most amazing display we’ve ever seen, but it’s way better than the majority of what’s out there. In actual use it does look good. The contrast ratio in particular sells the display.

Notebook LCD Quality - Black

The 13-inch panel is pretty close in performance. The max brightness is a bit higher and black level a bit lower. The resulting increase in contrast ratio is appreciable. For the most part you don’t make any quality tradeoffs when going with one MBA over another. It just boils down to screen size and resolution.

Both the 11 and 13-inch MBAs use TN panels, but they are better than your standard TN panel. Viewed above center the display washes out, viewed below center the display gets very dark.

The dark underside of TN panels

Color reproduction is above average, but not quite as good as the 15-inch MacBook Pro we reviewed earlier in the year.

Notebook LCD Quality - Color Accuracy

Color gamut isn’t very impressive at all. It’s in line with what you’d expect from a panels of these sizes though.

Notebook LCD Quality - Color Gamut

The SSD: Not Half Bad The 11-inch MacBook Air: Faster than the old 13-inch MacBook Air
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  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    The answer:

    Combined, they will be much less than $800.

    THe BRD is an option to add-on, so generally speaking, the normal trend is ~50% higher than the cost for the manufacturer to purchase and install it.

    And they can use ANY LV, ULV chip. Start at the lowest and give options for US to choose how high we can go.

    The design obviously will be altered somewhat for the ExpressCard slot, but the more I think about it, the more unnecessary it is in this day and age. USB 3.0 will give the speeds. (Also, USB 3.0 controllers aren't ZOMG expensive, they are relatively cheap)

    And its not 11, 13, and 15, its 11.6", 13.3" and 15.4" (and 17"). Seriously, 12", 14" and 16" is the best. You hit all three markets: the ultraportable, the general usage, and desktop replacement.

    And finally: stop being a douche and lets have a debate rather a name calling contest. Seriously, you wasted a run-on sentence on TARDIS and TARD?
  • solipsism - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Again, you've failed to even do the most rudimentary of research or cognitive thinking but somehow came to an $800 retail price point.

    Intel list their price per 1000 units of LV and ULV chips, and other vendors do sell 9.5mm BRDs (though not the more expensive slot-loading drives, as far as I can tell), and those two items alone are about $800. That's only two components and doesn't include any other costs or a profit margin.

    Then you've ignored Apple's choice to focus on slim deaigns. You may not like it (I certainly don't as an 11" MBA with double the battery would be more ideal for my needs) but you need to accept it. Saying "they don't have to make their machines so thin" is a strawman argument so don't even go there.

    Seriously, trying looking at actual HW on the market that Apple would potentially use, then price it. Grabbing a price for adiaplay base solely on resolution is pointless. Grabbing a price of a BRD that doesn't fit the space is pointless. Conclusion, your response will likely be pointless.
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    *takes deep breath*...

    A Blu ray drive OPTION (NOT STANDARD). The customer will pay for it if they so choose and there are slot load blu ray drives out there from Panasonic, Sony and even Dell.

    They don't have to be 9.5 mm they can be 12.7 because the Macbooks (not the Airs, which will not have an optical drive) are ~25 mm thick.

    And the slot load Blu Ray DRIVES run for ~$100:

    The slot load Blu Ray BURNERS run for around $250:

    So to maintain profits, they would charge $150 for the drive and $350-$400 for the burner.

    As for LV and ULV, the most expensive chip I found (ULV cost more than LV) is the Core i7-680UM which runs $317 (if you buy 1000, which I'm sure Apple can afford):

    I think it will be safe to assume (unless you object otherwise) that the ultra low voltage Core i3s and i5s will be noticeably cheaper.

    I don't spout out statistics because the information is quite literally a Google search away. I LITERALLY wrote "slot load blu-ray drive" and got those retailers.
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Sorry, wrong link. The Blu ray BURNERS cost around ~$350 (damn, no wonder retailers don't sell these in laptops)

    So to make it marginally profitable, it would be ~$450-$500 to ADD onto the BASELINE Mac product.
  • solipsism - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    OMG! This guy actually posts a link to a desktop-grade BRD that costs over $350 and suggests it for a Mac notebook that can only take a 9.5mm ultra-slim drive!


    You have ignored my list of sensible questions to you regarding viability and psychics, and have nonsensically claimed that Apple doesn’t use quality components when even AnandTech, one of the most neutral tech sites around clearly show that the LCD, trackpad and many other aspects are better than the competition.

    Look, you don’t have to like a company or their products, but to allow a modicum of common sense into your posts when you claim to be the only sensible one posting is insane. Really, it’s fraking crazy!
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link


    If you clicked the third image, you can clearly see that the HOUSING is what is 43mm and not the drive itself. You can actually see below the connector all that empty space under it.

    And things like the trackpad and LCD (especially on 11 and 13" screens) are not much more expensive (do you really want to go through every single minute component just so I can prove to you that it doesn't even come close to the costs I suggested?)

    I showed the pricing of the ULV and LV chips are (or at least what the absolute maximum will be for the one that the customer will pay extra for), it has already been established that the RAM, the memory, the screen and the GPU are available on other products for less, and I showed you the Blu ray Drive (the oh so fancy slot one that people want) that ISN'T EVEN STANDARD ON THE BASELINE I RECOMMENDED.

    I don't like the company because the company's pricing doesn't make sense. Yes the unibody aluminum is great. I like solid construction. The weight and thinness isn't really a big deal for me, but that doesn't negate the fact that it costs extra and takes effort.

    Should Mac products cost more? Of course. But the extent of their pricing lacks common sense and the only reason they are selling so damn well is because consumers have been brainwashed by their marketing tactics and "trend" setting. It makes me sick to my stomach that such a company has made $51 billion dollars over these products.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - link

    You are not factoring in their far superior service, which cost money, their higher hardware quality control standards, which costs money, the fact that they write their own OS instead of just slapping whatever mediocrity Microsoft is slinging these days, their own hardware design, higher quality hardware manufacturing, or the fact that you are clueless.
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    I don't think Apple can make those kinds of prices. There are a lot of things that go into a macbook that just aren't found in other laptops.

    -Giant trackpad
    -Decent LCD
    -Large battery
    -Exceptional build quality

    When you cram superior laptop components into a smaller package, it will undoubtedly be more expensive.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - link

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Back to Mommy's basement.
  • tim851 - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    >>I know this will never happen because it makes too much sense

    Gotta love it when somebody comes along and makes a "more sensible" pricing suggestion to the far and wide most profitable PC hardware manufacturer in the world and the gist of it is: price it more like those competitors that outsell you but earn less money doing it.

    You're a genius! You should make the same suggestion to Ferrari: Guys, you can move a whole lot more cars if you just make them cheaper!

    For ten years people have been saying that Apple needs to get cheaper. All the while they became ever more successfull. They might technically not be the no.1 computer maker, but they have a higher net income than the rest of the top 10 (probably even top 20) COMBINED. So the last thing they need to do is make their stuff cheaper.

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